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Russia undercounts true number of victims killed in Kakhovka HPP explosion - AP

Russia deliberately underestimated the real number of human losses from flooding after the dam explosion. 

Russia undercounts true number of victims killed in Kakhovka HPP explosion - AP
Photo: Libkos

The Russian occupation authorities in Oleshky, Kherson Region, deliberately underestimated the number of victims of the floods in Kherson Region after the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant was blown up. At least hundreds of people died in Oleshky alone.

This was reported by the Associated Press, citing medical workers, volunteers, rescuers, people who managed to escape from the occupied territory and Ukrainian informants.

Six months after the destruction of the Kakhovka dam in the southern Kherson Region, AP found that the Russian occupation authorities deliberately concealed the real number of deaths caused by the flooding.

The Russian authorities took control of the issuance of death certificates, quickly hid the bodies and did not allow local medical workers and volunteers to retrieve the bodies.

Svitlana, a nurse who was collecting death certificates, said she had asked the police for an "official order" confirming the change in the old policy, which had been in place since March. According to her, they did not have it and responded to her request with threats.

"They said: "You will be held responsible for this," Svitlana said.

Every day, police officers came to the hospital to make copies of the death certificates issued by doctors and to make sure that the rules were being followed. "You have to understand the conditions in which we worked there - under the FSB, the police, the prosecutor's office," Svitlana said.

Russia claimed that 59 people drowned on the territory under its control. However, in the town of Oleshky alone, the death toll is estimated at least in the hundreds.

AP spoke with three medical workers who kept records of the dead in Oleshky, one volunteer who buried the bodies, and two informants who passed intelligence from the area to the Ukrainian Security Service. According to their testimony, the mass graves were dug up and the unidentified bodies taken away and never seen again.

The publication took into account information from the closed Telegram channel of the city of Oleshky, in which residents reported bodies lying on the streets, corpses collected by the police, and missing persons.

"Their stories reveal a deliberate attempt by the Russian authorities to conceal the true cost of the dam collapse, which AP has found was likely caused by Moscow. The residents of Oleshky fear that their stories will be forgotten and their home will slowly die," the AP article says.

According to local residents, during the first three days of the flood, representatives of the occupation authorities were nowhere to be seen, and they apparently fled, despite the fact that they initially asked people "not to worry".

AP writes that employees of the occupation state emergency service returned to Oleshky in the afternoon of 9 June. Doctors were prohibited from issuing death certificates to flood victims. However, they were still allowed to issue certificates of other causes of death.

"Not only Russia, but even Ukraine does not realise the scale of this tragedy," says nurse Svitlana. 

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